On Sunday March 19th our minister Rev Christine Gillespie led worship. It was the third Sunday in Lent and we sang the third verse of the Tree of life Candle Liturgy:
‘We remember truth once spoken, Love passed on through act and word, Every person, lost and broken Wears the body of our Lord’ and the third candle was extinguished as we remembered the suffering in the world.
We sang ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, King of creation’ before the prayers of praise, confession and the Lord’s Prayer. We sang ‘There’s a spirit in the air’ before we heard the reading from Exodus 17.1-7, when Moses drew the water from the rock. ‘Desert Flowers’ by Pat Marsh was read before we sang, ‘As water to the thirsty.’ Then we heard the reading about the woman of Samaria from John 4.4-30, 39-41 before we sang, ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say.’
Christine began her sermon by reminding us that Jesus had said he was thirsty on the cross and sour wine was held to his mouth and after having received it he said, ‘it is finished.’ Nowadays there are places where many women still walk up to 8 hour journeys to get water, which is often dirty. Yet water is vital to life; if we lose 10% water in our bodies we become very ill and would die if we lost 20%. If we give water to the needy we will be giving it to Jesus. Jesus knew the value of water as do those who have to walk miles to get water. Was the sour wine on the sponge to shut Jesus up or a small act of kindness on a brutal day? On the cross Jesus asked Father to forgive them as they knew not what they did. Those who were thanked and commended for helping did not know they had done anything. When they had helped the least little person they had done it for Jesus. Christine was not enthusiastic about a church being floodlit in preparation for the millennium, but saw the value of another church sinking a well in Africa to provide clean water and save lives a worthy millennium goal. Jesus said, ‘I thirst’ and someone was kind to him.
He knew of the need of water for the woman at the well. She misunderstood the living water and thought it meant she would not have to keep coming to draw water or endure the neighbours’ scorn and turn up at midday. He offered her cleansing water having summed up her complicated life in a few words; having had 5 husbands and now living with a man. Hers was a story of abuse, possibly sinned against as well as sinning. Jesus was perceptive and kind and she received understanding, forgiveness and courage to tell her neighbours to come and see him. Jesus offered her spiritual fellowship, a gift of life to worship in spirit and truth. The disciples were very surprised that Jesus was offering spiritual water to her. We are all in need of spiritual refreshment, forgiveness and grace. Even Jesus had spiritual needs too. In Matthew he said, ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ When we ponder on the meaning of thirsting, we remember all are thirsty who are in crisis at the time and are helped. Those who spiritually thirst are helped by those who seek to guide and help. We must remember those who do not recognise that they thirst. All can through the resurrection of Jesus receive the well of the water of life.
Christine led into the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang ‘Father of everlasting grace.’